Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday dismissed dubious medical advice President Donald Trump shared on Twitter the previous evening, vowing to continue in his role as the country’s top infectious disease expert despite a new salvo of attacks from the White House.
In an interview Tuesday morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Fauci promoted best practices for combating the coronavirus and repeatedly contradicted the president, who tweeted more than a dozen times Monday night in defense of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19.
One of the messages Trump retweeted featured a woman who claimed to be a Houston physician, surrounded by others in white lab coats outside what appeared to be the U.S. Supreme Court, advocating on behalf of the antimalarial medication and discouraging the use of face masks.
That post has since been flagged by Twitter and removed from the president’s feed.
Addressing Trump’s social media activity, Fauci stressed Tuesday that Americans “should all be wearing masks outside” and agreed with the Food and Drug Administration’s decision last month to withdraw its emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine.
“The overwhelming prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in [treating the] coronavirus disease,” he said.
Fauci also was asked about one of Trump’s retweets Monday that cast doubt on his scientific credentials, including a message alleging he had “misled the American public on many issues.”
The widely respected immunologist has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for more than three-and-a-half decades, advising several presidents over the course of his career.
“I don’t know how to address that. I’m just going to certainly continue doing my job,” Fauci said Tuesday, adding: “I have not been misleading the American public under any circumstances.”
Trump’s latest Twitter spree represents a return to form for the president, who had escalated efforts in recent weeks to undermine his own public health officials before seemingly projecting a more science-focused tone last Tuesday regarding the pandemic.
But during a tour Monday of a vaccine production plant in North Carolina, Trump showed signs of his previous eagerness to reopen the U.S. economy in spite of record spikes in Covid-19 caseloads across the South and Southwest.
“I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that they’re not opening, and we’ll see what happens with them,” Trump said.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, one of Trump’s most outspoken Republican critics, said Tuesday that officials in his state were “not going to take the president’s advice” on reopening and accused him of “falling back into those old habits of just saying things that are counterproductive.”
“The messaging seems to be wrong by the president at this point in time. It’s sort of like the messaging we had earlier in the crisis,” Hogan told CNN. “But many of the states that opened too fast are now re-shutting down. And we don’t want to be in that position.”
Apart from his calls for states to phase out their coronavirus-related restrictions, Trump’s renewed touting of hydroxychloroquine is also notable given the results of at least three new studies adding to existing evidence that the drug is not helpful to Covid-19 patients.
Still, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro praised the administration’s announcement Tuesday that it would lend $765 million to the Eastman Kodak Company under the Defense Production Act to facilitate increased domestic manufacturing of drugs — including hydroxychloroquine, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“I think when people look back on this, this is the beginning of American independence from our pharmaceutical dependence on foreign countries,” he told Fox Business. “This project with Kodak is going to be amazing.”
Navarro has clashed with Fauci since the early days of the federal government’s pandemic response, shrugging off the doctor’s concerns about hydroxychloroquine’s safety and authoring an op-ed in USA Today earlier this month titled, “Anthony Fauci has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.”